PLEASANT VIEW - A stroke of seemingly bad luck gave Jonah Adkins the chance he needed to kill the buck of a lifetime.
Dawn was starting to break on the opening day of West Virginia's 2011 firearm buck season when Adkins found himself between a log and a hard place. A tree had fallen across the four-wheeler trail, and Adkins instantly knew he had no chance to make it to his chosen hunting spot on time.
"It was time to get hunting," he said. "I grabbed my tree stand, walked about 200 yards, and set the stand up so I had a good view of an adjoining flat."
Such things hadn't often happened to Adkins, a Lincoln County native who went on his first deer hunt at the tender age of 8. He had since enjoyed reasonable success, killing some nice bucks but no real trophies.
"When I started hunting, it was rare to kill a big buck," he said. "Since then, though, deer hunting in Lincoln County has gotten pretty good. There's less poaching now than there used to be. People are starting to value the resource, and that's bearing fruit in the form of some really nice bucks."
Still, living in a deer-rich area doesn't guarantee anyone a wall filled with trophies. Adkins had killed bucks before, but none that could be considered exceptional.
"A friend's dad killed a monster 12-point near Milton, and that seemed like a giant to us," Adkins said.
Partly due to his never having killed a real wall-hanger, and partly due to the hectic lifestyle that comes from being a middle-school principal, a church minister and the father of two young boys, Adkins hadn't done any scouting or set up any tree stands before the 2011 buck opener.
"There is a piece of land I have access to, and I was just going to hunt there," he said. "I had never had much success there, but I always felt something worthwhile was there. To get to the place I wanted to hunt, I had to drive my four-wheeler across the property. I was still a pretty good distance away from my spot when I saw a tree blocking the trail."
With the tree too big to move and with daylight approaching fast, Adkins punted. He picked up his rifle, shouldered his tree stand and made tracks to find the first hunting spot that looked promising.
Other hunters might have spent an entire morning fuming over such a crummy start to an otherwise promising morning, but Adkins was and is a man of faith. He climbed into his tree stand and got his rifle and gear arranged. As soon as there was enough daylight, he pulled a Bible from his pocket and started to read.
"I was sitting there reading when my eye caught a movement down low and to my right. It was a doe," Adkins said. "Then I heard a grunt. I turned to see if it was a spike or something. I heard another grunt, and then a grunt from behind me that was like a grizzly bear growl. I knew that last one wasn't any small buck.
"I turned and caught a glimpse of him standing behind two scrub oaks. I just saw the deer, not the antlers. I put the scope on him, and then I could see he was a shooter."
With the buck just 70 yards away, Adkins couldn't decide whether to use his .30-30's open sights or its scope.